Lobbyists with banking and thrift trade groups say President Clinton's budget-reduction plan would not be a total bust for the banking industry.

In fact, the industry has won victories on several fronts. It thwarted an effort to increase exam fees for state-chartered banks. The measure would have raised more than $1 billion over five years.

It also appears to have simplified liabilities have had to fight the Internal Revenue Service in court to write off these intangibles within seven years. The new language sets a 15-year time frame for writing off intangibles and goodwill.

"It is a great victory," said Jim O'Connor, tax counsel with Savings and Community Bankers of America. "It is fair and it should make everybody happy."

Knowing the Score

"You will know exactly when your deductions occur," added Henry Ruempler, director of tax and accounting with the American Bankers Association. "Without this law you are shooting craps. You were spending a small fortune in lawyer' fees and you had no certainty to the outcome."

But the lobbyists aren't thrilled with everything in the bill. To be sure, student lending is a sore point. A bill in the House would cut banks out of student lending altogether and put the business in the hands of the government.

"That will be some business lost and some business relationships lost," Mr. Ruempler said.

Others fret about the budget's proposal to raise $300 billion in new taxes.

"It certainly makes small businesses less profitable to the extent they get a tax increase," said Stephen J. Verdier, senior legislative counsel with the Independent Bankers Association of America.

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